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back to article Wireless e-car recharge tech within range?

If losing your leccy car's power cable or the risk of an almighty electric shock keeps you from buying an e-car, then US company Evatran may have the answer. plugless_power_01 Evatran's Plugless Power system would do away with charging cables The firm’s Plugless Power concept would supposedly let you recharge your e-car in …

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Anonymous Coward

Goody

So I'll just install one on the street outside my house shall I? Actually I'll need several because I can't guarantee I can park right outside my house.

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Stop

Efficiency?

Isn't the point (at the moment at least) of an electric car to reduce environmental damage/waste?

I thought induction technologies were extremely inefficient. Wouldn't this be one step forward - two steps back?

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Go

A use for services?

I can see this being quite popular with service stations. Provide one of these on each parking bay and your customers can park up, stretch their legs, have a meal and then hop in their fully recharged car and drive off.

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Coat

Bloody hell....

...how big would the magnet be?

Anyone with stell toecaps best aviod the area....

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Thumb Down

Magnetic field

.. would be a big one if they want to transfer some decent amount of energy (and that is what is required after all). My poor magnetic media .. . . .

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Anonymous Coward

pacemakers

I know for a fact unsheilded PA equipment can cause pacemakers to play up, so this is likely to kill people!

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Go

hot swap?

I still think easily swappable power cells is the way forward here. By all means improve charging options, and work on the technology, but I doubt any charging technology will be as quick as swapping a flat cell out for one that's fully charged.

Work on a standardised form-factor, develop testing, storage and charging rigs that can be deployed at service stations, and suddenly the limited range of electric vehicles becomes far less of an obstacle.

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Silver badge

Less of an obstacle?

No, not really. Work out how much power your local petrol station would require to recharge all these batteries - every town would need a substantial power plant just to supply them plus a new electricity grid to deliver it. Or you could transport them to a central location, but a 30kWh battery weighs about 300kg compared to 3 litres of petrol/diesel for the energy equivalent.

Short of a radical technological breakthrough (super-capacitors maybe), battery vehicles cannot be more than a niche solution (short-range commuting in towns) for our road transport needs.

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You're kidding, right?

1) I have a brand new car with $12K worth of batteries in it. They're under waranty for 10 years. I'm gonna just let some knucklehead (with a forklift) take those out and replace them with some generic batteries, that might not even have the same specs? HELL no.

2) Plug-In hybrids don't require the charge, they run on gas just fine if you run low (over 50 miles since the last charge). Swapping the batteries to avoid a lenghy charge time is simply not required. Charging at night taked 4-10 hours depending on the car and your in-home electrics. It's not a big deal

3) full electric cars are for commuters, not family trips cross country. They have predictable ranges over 100 miles, many up to 200, and shoudl not require battery replacement.

4) Car designs would have to be completey changed, into a much worse design, to support swappable packs. Currently, they're mounted underneath where the drivetrain is in your current car. Removal would require the car to be on a lift, or for an underground facility to be built.

5) without robotic assists, exactly how do you plan to quickly remove and replace 500lbs of battery (and that's just in the Volt, some electrics are over 1000lbs). You need forklifts, plus heavy duty shelves for storage, and HUGE storage areas. It would take 30-60 minutes to swap this out, including hooking the packs up to chargers to recycle for the lext customer.

6) charging hundreds of battery packs per day at a gas station is virtually impossible on our current electric grid. We don;t have the transmission capacity to get that much high speed charge juice to one location. You're talking about several thousand KWh's per day per gas station potentially.

7) logistics: Swapping pacs while commuting would not be the norm, which means it's long distance travel. Imaging the battery usage, and which stations need how many packs going and coming from beach areas in summer, or on big holiday weekends!

8) holy crap the storage! A pack is 6 -8 feet long and 5 feet wide and over a foot thick. A busy station might need hundreds of these! Not only would that be a huge storage issue, it's also a million+ dollar investment.

9) By the time any of this could be built, we'll have mass circulation of SCiB battery packs (already in mass production and beginning to gain in popularity). These can be rapid charged to 85% in under 10 minutes, about the time it takes to fill up a gas tank, or grab snack and take a piss on interim stops on long trips. If you can go more than 150 miles between 10 minutes stops, you're bladder is better that most average families.

10) by standardizing on pack design, capacity, voltage, and more now, you prevent battery technology innovation from being used. Once you;ve spent a hundred billion buying excess packs (which we do not have in the supply chain, and which are in demand enough, so requesting more would have a big impact on price) and major overhauls to thousands of gas stations, they'll expect that to last 10 years at least. We have better battery tech coming out every year or two. You propose we simply stop advancing for 10 years, if not more.

Swappable packs will not happen in my lifetime. GIVE UP on this. Every reason it makes sense will not be a reason in 5 years, and every reason not to will still be there. Give up on H2 powered cars while you're at it, since you probably still think that's a good idea too.

Let me also note this: Our current grid infrastructure in the US can not support more than 0.5% of people using electric cars in our cities, and at max might support 3% of people with electric cars averaged across the grid. We have about 30 TRILLION to spend to overhaul the grid and build more power infrastructure to support 25% of people. This is a 30-40 year process. We can not push electric cars any more beyond them being a basic nich item that simply exists to forward car design and battery technology. Beyond that, costs would spiral out of control and noone could afford them (as it is, they're a $5K sink that can never be recouped as it is).

Next: We DO need to get off oil. H2 is not an option. EV is not an option. So what is? RFTS. Never heard of it? Neither have most people, but it's been an in-use process for MAKING gasoline since WWII. Some energty (which can come from carbon nuetral wind), some sequestered CO2 (most new coal plants being built are sequestering, and have nowhere to send their waste), and some water (which can be dirty, undrinkable water, not taking from freshwater supplies), and you can make any hydrocarbons you want from lowly greases to jet fuels. Modern science and over 60 new patented improvements, and mass scale design thinking, have put RFTS in a position to make unlimited fuel, carbon neutral, for about $60 a barrel at the factory, and at about $3 a gallon at the pump. check out www.dotyenergy to learn more. This is PROVEN, in-the-field science that's over 60 years old, and it;s now a real option to replace oil.

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Blimey

Blimey mate that's one hell of a rant. I assume OP wasn't talking about a retrofitted solution for existing electric cars but something more along the lines of this PAYG setup:

http://www.betterplace.com/

described here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/technology/personaltech/19pogue-email.html?_r=1&8cir&emc=cira1

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Gold badge

Also not kidding.

You forgot:

11) Assuming that 1-10 are surmountable problems, now design a "standard" pack that serves the needs of both a future small three-door hatchback and its two tonne SUV counterpart....

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Anonymous Coward

Any make or model?

That would be clever. Or at least it would be clever without installing some sort of coily pickupy type of thing in the car connected to it's batteries.

How big would this device be? How much would it weigh? Would they have to make different ones for different models of car? If it's huge it might be hard to find somewhere to install it on smaller cars. If it's heavy it would hardly be advantageous to the performance and handling of a batter fueled car which is already, by it's very nature, going to be pretty heavy.

As you say, details are thin on the ground. Questions need to be answered. Come on people don't just reprint the press release, get out there and do some investigative journalism.

And slower charge times are just what leccy cars need to make them more popular aren't they? They're not? Oh, right.

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Boffin

Hmmm?

How efficient is wireless charging? The last time I saw it mentioned in an article about getting rid of power cable clutter at home figures of 30% were mentioned.

That doesn't do much for the eco-credentials does it?

60% loss when its generated.

10% loss during transmission.

75% (?) at point of use.

Enquiring minds would like to know :)

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Terminator

The future of driving

Electric cars with clever ways of charging them and also all these automatic self drive cars that are being proposed at the moment, why bother messing around with all this tech when we have a perfectly good system thats been around for decades...

Gentlemen, I would like to predict the future of driving in a single word, "Scalextric"

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WTF?

Scalextric?

So I take it then that, scaling such a system up, you'd have no problem with two bloody great metal bars embedded down the middle of every road carrying hundreds of volts at thousands of amps to run all the cars using it? Wow, don't cross the road, children... I can see the headlines now: "Vehicle accidents at all-time low but 168,000 electrocutions reported in the last year"!

And a good rain would produce some trippy effects on the roads too. All that water running over the power rails arcing beautifully in incandescent blue before reaching the wet footpaths and turning hundreds of pedestrians into human torches... awesome!

Intersections would be interesting as well, although I imagine some kind of railway-type switch system with a single swinging bar between the two power rails to turn cars this way and that. But still...

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FAIL

Fantastic...

Unless like me you have two cars and a single-car-width-driveway. Cars have to be parked one behind the other. This would mean i could only charge one car at a time ... unless you can drive over the top of this thing, which is not what is demonstrated in the picture.

Waste of time unless every parking space in every car park, everywhere, is fitted with this tech.

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Grenade

When competing technologies collide

What happens when I walk past an active powermat car charger with my powermat adapted iphone in my pocket? Does my poor iphone go boom?

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Anonymous Coward

Parking Bay?

A colleague lives in a flat with a nice parking garage in the basesment. He was interested in an electric car and asked the facilities management company responsible for his flats if he could have a power point installed at his parking bay.

Their initial response was that it wasn't in any of the contracts so it wasn't going to happen. He offered to pay and they spoke to the electricity infrastructure company that supply the building. They said they said it would have to either be off the utility supply, becuase they wouldn't accept it being fed from the domestic DB in his flat. The facilties p[eople wouldn't do it off the utility supply because there was no facility in place to bill him for the power used and that would be prohibitively expensive to set up.

Now obviously there is no particular technical reason it could not be made to work, with some sort of metered charging system at each bay (which would need security to stop people "stealing" power). However, with attitudes like that displayed by this particular facilities company owning a battery e-car if you live in a flat could turn out to be rather difficult.

It all comes back to infrastructure problems of one sort or another. Those of us who park on street or in public/communal car parks will no be well served. Even for those with private parking and a power supply thereto there is always the problem of charging while away from home. This cable less solution may well help the latter group, but it will do nothing for the former. And therein lies the major problem; we have a chicken and egg situation. Public charging points will not become widespread until the uptake of the technology is sufficiently high, but people without private parking will not buy into the technology until public charging points are widely available.

For that reason I think the long term solution lies with fuel cells (not necessarilly hydrogen) because infrastructure problems are easier to overcome. Existing filling stations would find it easy to tool up to sell a different fuel. Existing fuel companies already have the infrastructure to deliver the fuel to the filling stations. Having charging points all over the place is going to mean a major investment. Anybody filling a car park with charging points will have to provide infrastructure for worst possible case, ie every point operating at it's maximum current. Which could well mean new cabling laying in from the wide area network. Lots of civils involved there. I honestly can't see that anybody will be willing to make the initial investment, especially since we are already told our current electrical infrastructure is on it's last legs.

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Silver badge

Charging problem is easily solved

Just use the e-tag system currently in place for billing drivers using toll roads. No e-tag - no power delivery. With the e-tag, the correct driver can be billed for the exact amount of power the car uses, regardless of who's space the car is parked in.

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FAIL

Mischarge

So you arrive home, in a hurry, park up in the garage quickly and assume that you've aligned the car correctly and rush inside so you don't miss the latest episode of [insert favourite TV programme here], come out the car next morning to discover it was never charging, so you can't drive it anywhere.

Fail!

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@mischarge

One assumes they will spring for the massive cost of a small LED on the dash that will light up when the charger is connected.

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Silver badge

What about the other 10% ?

If we accept that impressive figure of 90%, and the little battery in the 15 mile range Prius reviewed yesterday, the wasted energy is enough to run a small toaster or two big graphics cards. Now scale that up to a car with a 150 mile range (still small enough to get derisive comments here). That other 10% is going to heat things. All the power of your central heating focussed into a patch under your car heating things you would prefer not to catch fire.

Please can the Register provide a video of a demonstration of this product in action a long way away from me.

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Go

Idea

Why not install them at each set of traffic lights in urban areas?

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Scalextric - no joke

@SmallYellowFuzzyDuck - many a true word, etc.

Can I just second that and add - trolleybuses. All the joys of electric transport without having to lug big batteries around. Though, of course, if you did stick some batteries onboard, you could smooth out the load on the grid, and provide some limited autonomy for detours and other unforseens. No reason why commercial vehicles shouldn't use the same wires as billing info could easily be sent & received.

I also envisage a semi-Scalextric type system - conductive studs in the road. Any time a vehicle remains statonery for more than a few seconds, a probe on its underside finds the nearest stud, and has a quick conversation to give the grid the driver's billing details. The stud is then enabled to send a burst of power to the vehicle's super capaitors, which then feed the charge into the batteries.

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FAIL

Holy Magnets Batman!

The field strentghs required to deliver anything more than a trickle charge at 110v to a car would be rediculous! Most home plug-ins (other than the Prius 2012 with a pathetic 5Kwh battery and 15 mile range) will be charged at home on high amp 240v circuits.

Look, the Volt car takes 8 hours to charge on a high volt, hig amp cable. it never really lets it's 16KWh battery get below 50%, so the average charge should be about 8KWh. That means 8 hours of 1KW power use per hour, which is a MASSIVE amount of power to pass via induction coils. Anything within a few feet of this pad would be magnetically erased, everything ferrous in the garrage would be slowly magnetized, and long term exposure to fields of those strengths has never really been studied and could be a significant health risk. You're also talking about having to magnetically shield many parts of the car, since placing a laptop bag on the floor could cause data loss if the magentic pad was underneath.

This is a huge cost to the car, a 10% power loss (and that's assuming near contact, it's a factor of CUBES efficiny loss if you park too far away!), and a huge risk.

Also, has anyone seen the power cords for cars? I have. it is IMPOSSIBLE to be shocked by one. It's not a household plug, not even like your dryer cord. It has an intelligent circuit in it and NO POWER goes through the cable at all except a carrier signal until it detects perfect contact with the car's electrical outlet. Further, the contacts are not exposed. And as far as it lying on the floor? they're typically installed on a hook system and springs so they automatically retract to a position against the wall. Yes, there are 110v outlets on these cars as well, but that's for when you;re not home and have to plug in somewhere random, but at home you'll be using a custom external charging system that's professionally installed by an electrician, and most houses will need an aditional or expanded circuit box to handle it, possibly an replacement or additional mainline from the power company... (If you don;t have a 300amp main, and want an electric car, you'll likely need one).

Forgetting to plug in? That's also simple. A position sensor in the car and garage, like a simple bluetooth connect, and the car could essentially "yell" at you if you've parked it for more than 10 minutes and have not plugged it in yet... This could be by texting you, sending you an e-mail alert, call you on the phone, blinking some light inside your house, honking it's horn, any number of alert mechanisms could be used for a reminder of "you forgot to plug in the car." Heck, it could scoll a notice across your TV with the right connection.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

"And as far as it lying on the floor? they're typically installed on a hook system and springs so they automatically retract to a position against the wall."

Really? The ones I've seen are just a pretty standard extension cable with a commando on the end. Lovely shot of one on the news the other week (story about smart meters that will discharge your car at peak times and recharge it on cheap rate off peak electricity) the bloke just trailled a cable out of his front door and plugged it into the car. And yes it was genuine.

"Yes, there are 110v outlets on these cars as well, but that's for when you;re not home and have to plug in somewhere random, but at home you'll be using a custom external charging system that's professionally installed by an electrician, and most houses will need an aditional or expanded circuit box to handle it, possibly an replacement or additional mainline from the power company... (If you don;t have a 300amp main, and want an electric car, you'll likely need one)."

Look mate, in the free world we have 240v mains and most houses have a 100A main fuse. That's 24KVA. Of course you're not going to get all of that to charge your car, have a shower while the dinner's cooking and there's clothes in the tumble dryer and you're not going to have much left at all. Which is of course why the standard charger will probably be a 16A or maybe 32A unit. Some of those cars might accept charging at 25KVA, but that's not practical if you only

have to switch on the bedroom light to blow the main fuse.

More worrying is the fact that a town full of houses pulling 100A would quickly overload the local supply. In order for these vehicles to be a pratical proposition I think most countries would have to upgrade their whole infrastructure from generation, through grid to local supplies. And who is going to pay for this?

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Terminator

g whizz

i saw my first ghwhizz the other day, parked up outside a house in rural cheshire of all places, it was night and the extension cable was easily accessible

my better nature prevented any mischief

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Joke

@g whizz

It's 'G-Wiz' but in any event, were you planning on siphoning off the electricity? You'd better be careful if you're planning to suck some out first....

There again I see it's in Cheshire. Isn't that near Liverpool?

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Nothing new

Why is everyone getting so breathless about this tech - even the EV1 used "electric toothbrush" inductive charging, and the park-over-charging-pad has been around for ages.

http://www.uniservices.co.nz/uploadedfiles/uniservices/UniServices%20Wireless%20Car%20Charging%20Brochure_1.pdf

http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=2591

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jul/20/nissan-electric-car-plug-free

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Flame

Don't get carried away!

It's only a transformer with the primary and secondary windings physically separated on their own cores. Bring the two halves close enough together and you complete the transformer which can transmit power by induction in just the same way as a normal double-wound transformer. There's no real danger of charging all the other cars in the neighbourhood!

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WTF?

I Still Don't Get It

Call me dense (as ever) but I *still* don't get this. OK so you can now charge your electricity-wagon without the need for wires...but it *still* takes hours and hours.

In my current kill-all-the-children-and-cute-seal-pups diesel, when it's running out of fuel I go to somewhere called a 'filling station', spend 2-3 minutes filling up, and then go off on my merry (carbon spouting) way. With all of these schemes, I need to pull up, miles from home, sit there for hours waiting for the battery to charge and then have my boss screaming blue murder at me for missing an important meeting.

What am I missing?

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FAIL

And hours and hours

The worst thing about this solution is that it will take even longer to charge than plugging in your vehicle and ill use even more energy to do so. It just seems to have so many points against it it's untrue.

This thing costs a lot more than a power cable.

It will cost more to run than a power cable (more electricity used per charge).

It will be more harmful to the environment (ditto).

It will mean modifications to your car (how's that going to affect your insurance and your warranty?).

And the plus points? It will be marginally more convenient. Well worth all that wedge then.

The argument that it will charge any make and model of car is somewhat misleading. Most of the cars I have seen seem to plug into 240V mains with a standard commando plug. How on earth do they reconcile this with the idea that different cars use different voltages?

The thing about the charge time is a pretty big problem, but the biggest problem is when you combine that with the pitifully short range of most e-cars. We keep hearing from the pro e-car mob that ranges under 200 miles are adequate for most journeys. A car that is adequate for most journeys but an 8 hour recharge when it isn't? Great so every time I fancy a day at the coast I will need to stay overnight to charge the car? Brill. A meeting down south? Another overnight stay. And the trip to the ferry for holidays? Well that will require an overnight stay on the way to the ferry. Three overnight stays going from the ferry to the holiday. And of course three on the way back to the ferry and another one on the way home. So that's the whole holiday taken up with recharging the car. Excelent.

People. There will only be mass acceptance of these vehicles when they are at least as convenient as their IC brethren. That just isn't going to happen any time soon. Hybrids seem to use just as much fuel as IC cars. Fuel cells are the way forward.

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Silver badge

Why not just solar cells?

Seriously, if you don't build such a gigantic car, solar cells would be enought to power your car.

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Grenade

WTF?

This post goes wrong with it's first word. Seriously? There's nothing serious about that post.

At the earth's surface you're looking at bright sunlight delivering around 1KW per square metre. The horizontal surfaces of the average family car probably add up to no more than 6 or 7 square metres. Even assuming solar cells are 100% efficient (and they're a long way from that) you're looking at about ten horsepower. How do you expect 10 horsepower to be enough to propel a car at any reasonable speed? Even a small light car is going to need more than twice that to maintain 70mph. And that's without running any accessories, even the essential ones like lights or wipers. Even the poxiest small car has an engine that delivers something like 40KW these days.

Presumably you're thinking of the solar cells charging batteries when the car is parked. It sort of works, but even so it would severely limit running time. On the average sunny day you would probably only get something like three hours of running and that would be at pitifully low power outputs. On rainy day in winter you would probably get half an hour's running.

Probably quite useful in a town car in Cairo, but it won't suit the rest of the world.

Solar panels that make the most of the sun by always facing the sun? How much aerodynamic drag would that make?

You simply can't get more power from sunlight than is already there. Even outside the the earth's atmosphere at 93 million miles from the sun you only get about 1.4KW per square metre.

Have you paid no attention to the regular attempts made at solar powered cars? They are always totally impractical lightweight streamliners, usually with dangerously skinny tyres and a single seat.

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